Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Petland Faces Class Action Lawsuit for Peddling Unhealthy Puppy Mill Dogs in at Least 20 States

March 17, 2009 Press Release: HSUS

PHOENIX — Members of The Humane Society of the United States and other consumers filed a class action lawsuit alleging that Petland, Inc. and the Hunte Corporation are conspiring to sell unhealthy puppy mill puppies to unsuspecting consumers in numerous states. Petland is the nation's largest chain of pet stores that sells puppy mill dogs and Hunte is one of the country's largest distributors of factory-produced puppies.

The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Phoenix late Monday, alleges that Petland and Hunte violated federal law and numerous state consumer protection laws by misleading thousands of consumers across the country into believing that the puppies sold in Petland stores are healthy and come from high-quality breeders. Many of the puppies sold by Petland come either directly from puppy mills or puppy brokers such as Hunte, which operates as a middleman between the mills and Petland's retail stores.

"Unscrupulous dog dealers like Petland and Hunte reap massive profits by pushing unhealthy puppies on well-intentioned dog-lovers who would never knowingly buy a puppy mill dog," said Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president & chief counsel for Animal Protection Litigation at The HSUS. "Families often bear the great expense of veterinary treatment for sick and unhealthy dogs, or the terrible anguish of losing a beloved family pet. This industry has been systematically lying to consumers for years about the source of the dogs they sell, and it's long past time for a reckoning."

The class action lawsuit is the result of many months of investigative and legal research, and comes after an eight-month investigation into Petland stores by The HSUS that demonstrated a direct link between multiple Petland stores and unscrupulous puppy mills. Numerous other reports have also surfaced of Petland's allegedly deceptive sales practices, including the marketing and sale of puppies with life-threatening genetic defects and highly contagious parasitic and viral infections. 

The 34-page complaint includes numerous examples of sick or dying puppies that Petland sold, including: 

  • Mainerd, a Boston terrier, was diagnosed with a congenital spinal condition. Some of her vertebrae have not formed completely while others have fused together causing tissue to grow underneath along with possible nerve damage. Mainerd is now receiving steroid treatments for her ailments and may require expensive surgery.
  • Minchy, a miniature pinscher, was sold by Petland at 10 weeks old. He was immediately diagnosed with coccidian, an intestinal parasite that causes diarrhea and weight loss. Minchy was also diagnosed with an inherited disorder, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which will ultimately lead to permanent blindness.
  • Tucker was sold at 4 months old. The bloodhound puppy experienced severe separation anxiety and various health problems before developing orbital cancer at only 7 months of age. 
  • Patrick, a Pomeranian puppy, was sold at 3 months old. He suffered from diarrhea and vomiting shortly after arriving at his new home. At 11 months old, Patrick was diagnosed with a genetic disorder, dual luxating patellas, which will require expensive surgery on both of his knees to correct.

Puppy mills are mass breeding operations where the health of dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits. The dogs are often kept in wire cages, stacked on top of each other, with no exercise, socialization, veterinary care, or loving human interaction. They are treated not like family pets, but like a cash crop.  Petland denies it supports these substandard breeding facilities, and claims to follow "Humane Care Guidelines" developed in conjunction with the USDA. However, USDA recently informed HSUS in writing that it has no record of any such guidelines.

The class plaintiffs are being represented in the case by Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky, PC; Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, LLC; Garen Meguerian, Esq. and lawyers in The HSUS's Animal Protection Litigation section. The suit requests a jury trial on behalf of the consumer class plaintiffs, and seeks reimbursement of the puppies' purchase price along with compensation for all related monetary damages for the class members.

June 29, 2009  Nothing Has Changed At Petland 

A Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) follow-up investigation has found that Petland stores are still supporting puppy mills, including some of the largest and most notorious in the country.

The new intensive study analyzed thousands of pages of public interstate health documents in multiple states, revealing that almost every Petland store in the country is buying from puppy mills, either directly from commercial breeding facilities or indirectly through middleman brokers.

The new investigation of Petland's puppy sources also traced shipments of puppies from out of state brokers to
more than 95 percent of Petland's domestic stores, revealing once again that the chain is supporting puppy mills.

More than 80 stores were linked directly to the Hunte Corporation alone, a massive Missouri broker that resells about 80,000 puppies a year and has documented Animal Welfare Act violations.

Comment: Petland claims again and again that they deal only with a special selection of breeders, and as the HSUS investigation reveals, this is simply not true.  What about Petland stores in Canada?  What about the Pet Habitat franchise in BC?  Where are their puppies coming from?  Most likely from a mill somewhere in Canada or the USA.  DON”T SUPPORT CRUELTY.  DON’T BUY FROM A PET STORE!   

October 9, 2010 ABC-7 reports that the South Austin Petland store is going out of business. Before it does, the franchise owners plan to take some local animal activists to court. Four animal welfare organizations have been served. In 2009, the HSUS and other consumers filed a federal suit accusing Petland of purchasing dogs from puppy mills.  

Meanwhile, a new ordinance passed by City Council earlier this week will ban on the sale of cats and dogs younger than a year old. It goes into effect January 1st-- the very same day Petland is set to close. 

Also, this month (Oct.4th) Richmond council voted unanimously to ban the sale of dogs in pet stores, becoming the first city in Canada to do so. Pet store owners have until April 2011 to comply. 

Petland in Fairfax, VA, closes after allegedly letting rabbits 'die out'

April 3, 2019 Fairfax City Police served a search warrant on a Northern Virginia pet store while investigating alleged animal neglect. Rabbits for sale at Petland are dying without veterinary care, according to an undercover video released by the Humane Society of the United States. Our investigation found that rabbits in the store were deprived of veterinary care and often died. The undercover investigator found 14 dead rabbits in Petland's freezer on a single day in January 2019 alone. Source: ABC7

Please do not buy animals from pet stores – choose adoption. Please sign the petitions currently circulating and/or send a message to Petland: customerservice@petlandinc.com Petland was founded in 1967. Its CEO is Joe Watson. https://corporateofficehq.com/petland-corporate-office/

More lawsuits on our Animal Law page

Our Horrible Hundred report exposes 100 puppy mills that sell to pet stores and online

May 10, 2021 Kitty Block and Sara Amundson  HSUS

Our undercover photos and even the inspection reports of some of these operations reveal that federal and state inspection systems are failing these dogs. This year’s report underscores that the need for reform could not be more urgent.........

BC Petland's: Surrey's Petland - no surprises here; Courtenay store closes, PoCo rabbits

Discussion and concerns on Petland stores in BC

USDA: Regulate Unlicensed Puppy Mills; the Animal Welfare Act; ASPCA campaign; puppy mill statistics

Help us in our efforts to reform this antiquated & oppressive industry.